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New scientific talent, and leadership, part of expansion plan at Seattle Biomed

Alan Aderem

Alan Aderem, an internationally recognized immunologist who helped gene-sequencing pioneer Leroy Hood launch a “systems biology” firm in Seattle 15 years ago, is transferring his research program from Hood’s operation to Seattle Biomed.

Aderem is expected, in less than a year, to also take the helm of this organization, which is one of the region’s leading global health firms as well as one of the world’s leading malaria vaccine research institutions.

As the Seattle Times’ Kristi Heim reports, Aderem and 42 researchers are leaving the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) to come join Seattle Biomed as part of a planned expansion funded by a $7 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Heim writes:

Seattle BioMed said Aderem will bring a new approach to its infectious-disease research and integrate his expertise in systems biology to speed the pace of new vaccines and drugs to fight HIV, malaria and other diseases.

That new approach is the “systems biology” approach, a buzzword that typically refers to the marriage of sophisticated computational analysis with molecular biology and genome science techniques. Here’s a (somewhat skeptical) story I wrote — before I worked for KPLU — from a meeting last year at ISB in which they made the case for what systems biology can bring to global health.

Founding President Ken Stuart, who launched the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute out of strip mall office in the late 1970s, will step down but remain president emeritus and on the board of directors. Here is Seattle Biomed’s press release.

Stuart’s story is an amazing tale of perseverance based on his stubborn desire to create a research organization here devoted to neglected diseases in poor countries.

Support from the Gates Foundation has allowed Seattle Biomed to grow rapidly in the last few years, but it wouldn’t be here if not for decades of work by Stuart who pursued these problems long before global health was sexy.


About Author

Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at] or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.